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Author Claims Megachurch Defamed Him

McKINNEY, Texas (CN) - Dallas-based megachurch The Potter's House threw out an ordained member for writing a self-published book called "Sunday Morning Stickup: What Your Pastor Doesn't Want You to Known About Tithes," the man claims in court.

David Lee Richardson sued The Potter's House of Dallas, Sheryl Brady, T.D. Jakes, Joby Brady and Mark Jeffries, on Jan. 27 in Collin County Court.

Richardson says he held a leadership position with the church and primarily attended services at its north campus in Parker.

He says that his book, published in March 2013, did not make any reference to The Potter's House or any of the defendant church officials.

Richardson says that after posted the cover of his book on his Facebook page and sent out a "friends" request to defendant Jeffries, he was called in to meet with two church pastors.

"Plaintiff was advised that he was being asked to resign as a leader in the church and was officially stripped of his ordination license which he held for more than 20 years," the complaint states.

"Defendant Pastor Brady expressed to plaintiff that she had no respect for him due to him writing the book. She went on to express that she makes no promises that she would read the book and she also expressed that leadership's decision was based on the cover. Plaintiff was advised that defendant Sheryl Brady had spoken with T.D. Jakes prior to the meeting and was asked if she could strip plaintiff of his license and T.D. Jakes told her yes."

Richardson says he was allowed to continue attending church at Parker and hear sermons, but had to sit in the back of the church, away from ministers and elders.

"Jeffries told plaintiff that if plaintiff continued to attend church at The Potter's House North, plaintiff would have to sit in the back if plaintiff sat in the middle section of the sanctuary," the complaint states. "Jeffries also pointed out a pillar to plaintiff and let plaintiff know that if plaintiff sat on the right side of the sanctuary, plaintiff would have to sit ten rows behind the indicated pillar."

Richardson claims that at the Jan. 27, 2013 service, four police officers physically picked him up and carried him out of the sanctuary against his will, upsetting his children.

"Once outside plaintiff was told that earlier in the week the decision had been made to revoke his membership and he was no longer welcome at the church and if he returned he would be arrested for criminal trespass," the complaint states. "After returning home, plaintiff realized that he had not been told why he and his children had been physically removed from the live church service in front of congregants and felt he had been wronged because he and his children had done nothing to merit the way he and his children had been treated."

Richardson says his 11-year-old son was "rocking back and forth violently, head and ears, and clasping his hands praying and crying" during the conversation with police. He says his 10-year-old daughter was "drenched with tears and visibly traumatized."

Richardson says that when he later went to a Parker police station for a police report on the incident, an officer told him that police "had been lied to and that they were used by the leadership at the church to get rid of the plaintiff."

"Officer Paul stated that he told defendant Mark Jeffries that plaintiff was not causing a scene nor posing any threat and that they should refrain and simply speak with plaintiff after service, but defendant Mark Jeffries insisted that plaintiff be removed at once during the live church service," the complaint states.

Church officials did not respond to a request for comment Monday afternoon.

Founded in 1996 in south Dallas, The Potter's House has more than 30,000 members, according to its website.

Richardson seeks punitive damages for negligence, conspiracy, aiding and abetting, assault, battery, defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

He is represented by Timothy E. Baker in Allen.

Follow @davejourno
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